Oh Almighty Father, You have told us that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Is there anything more evil than pride–that love of self in our hearts that crowds out Your Holy Spirit? The more we puff ourselves up, putting ourselves “above all things“, the less room we have for Christ. I have felt the sting of pride too often and for too long, a living thing inside of me demanding it’s own attention, insidious, treacherous, poisoning every thing I do and every relationship I have. It’s ears itch for the empty praises of men, evil praising evil as they rush together to the pit. How You must weep knowing our vanities will poison our very souls! Pride and Ego are such addicts–they feed on self-worship and pretension, bloating our hearts and minds with empty words. How we love to glorify the creature and not our Creator; Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof! And yet Jesus was meek and humble of Spirit, looking to His Father in all things; He did not seek the praises of men but held with scorn those who worked out their salvation in front of others; for the praise of men, knowing their hearts had the reward it sought–the glory of un-glorious things!
Father, this pride frightens me, this love of self. It is stubborn and has roots that seem to extend to the very depths and essence of me; roots that reflect 46 years of my careful pruning, lovingly shaping, watering, growing this hateful vine that has wrapped itself around my heart and choked that part of me that longs only to You. It is a cancer Lord and as I cut out one part, it seems to spring up in another part; I pull off a few twigs and great branches seem to replace them. Father I am tired of these useless efforts to purge my heart of myself. With fear and trembling, I put down my small, pathetic clippers and in a smaller voice still, a whisper of that caged part of my soul that only You could hear (I could not even hear it over myself) asked You to pick up Your great scythe and strike down the roots as only You can; a great grievous swath that wrenches this ego away no matter the pain; throw this self into the fire Father and destroy it before it destroys my very soul. And when my tears and my fears and my dread and my torment are wrenched with it, oh Lord You bathed me in Your healing love! This tiny heart where once You squeezed into the very back room of my life (so hard to find!) has become a great Hall for Your Son to reside so full of You that I could burst for my love for You and my wanting You. What a relief and rest to stop striving, to stop worrying, to stop frantically feeding monsters which were never satisfied! Praise Your Holy Name Lord! I never knew what entering Your rest was until now; like a thirsty sailor surrounded by water everywhere that he cannot drink, my soul looked longingly at Your living water but was too weak to take hold of it and bring it to these parched lips. But Jesus, my Saviour and Strength, did that for me and bid me satisfy myself.
Lord, I thank you for the “shared services” at my job three years ago. I was devastated when I lost my functions, my departments and my authority; all that I had built in my career over the last 20 years. I was demoted and I was hurt and I was angry and I was bitter at the life I had created for myself.
Father, thank You for this lesson; that what You give, You can take away. Yours is the glory Almighty God! I threw the pearls You gave me to men who did not value them, but trampled them underfoot. Oh the freedom to not carry the burdens that we accept from such men anymore! I look at myself now in shame; at the people I let go; the lives I destroyed; How big my BOSS EGO got, How I had magnified myself to the point that I was blind to everything but me. I lost everything because you were not my root and not my anchor. What shifting sands I built my house upon! At the first wind, the first storm, all was lost! Thank you Lord that You are such a loving Father, disciplining Your children; You created us and You know what we need. You taught me through my tears that men are fickle but You do not Change; men approach relationships with expediency, casting them aside when they are no more use for them but You are always Faithful. Thank you Lord that I see now how your judgement upon me was Just and Righteous. I had magnified myself and You knew I needed You to cut down the idol of self that had corrupted this heart You gave me that had usurped Your rightful place. My demotion has taught me such gratitude for the things that You have blessed me with; I have learned that everything Good comes from You and Your glory is the reason for all things. Nothing that man can do to me can take the love of Christ away; the more man persecutes and deceives and hurts, the great and sweeter our life in You is; The bigger our hurt, the deeper Your healing. The noisier the tumult; the more Your peace and happiness abound. Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world!
Like many in this world, I knew of Paul’s treatise of Love in Corinthians and my mind and pride thought I had understood it. You showed me Lord that all of these past years I have been doing what Love does not do–Love does not take offense. And yet my heart did not understand what this meant. I took offense at many things–the person who I believed insulted me, the driver who cut me off, the harsh words from a colleague, the cleaning up after my family, all offenses against me, so this idolatrous heart said. The taking of offense created such bitterness in me; the more bitter and brittle this heart became, the more offended I became. Oh that evil pride again! Thank you Father for showing me that these things are not sins against me. Who am I that people would sin against me? I am truly nothing. Now the words of truth echo in my heart, AGAINST THEE ONLY LORD HAVE I SINNED. It is God’s standard that we miss when we sin, not our own. To take offense at others is to believe we are LIKE GOD to be sinned against. What prideful drivel! If a harsh word is spoken against me, that is not for me to take offense, that sin is not against me; it is against the Lord. That is why we are to pray for those who hurt us; they are blind to what they are doing, just like I was. Thank you God that now I pray for You to save them from the bitterness of soul that left unchecked will destroy what You made in Your image. When we are nothing, forsaken and empty, only then can the Lord pour Himself into us.
Thank you Lord for showing me how prideful and sinful I had become. My bitterness choked out all the joy in my life and poisoned relationships I should have cherished as gifts from You. Psalm 10:6 sums up the old heart of me: “He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity”. Praises to Your Holy Name and the Holy Scythe in your Right hand; not only will it separate the wheat from the chafe, it liberated my heart from the weeds that choked it. You have replaced bitterness with sweetness; despair with hope; impatience with patience; anger with gentleness; fury with mercy and strife with Your peace.
The poem below the Spirit within me wrote to the Glory of God, In His Own words as sprung up in my heart (References to the Verse of Inspiration beside it in brackets):
Hearts of unfathomable darkness, cloaked in deception and wicked desperation, (Jeremiah 17:9)
Stout and unmovable; hearts declaring their own ends, (Psalm 10:6)
Stubborn and unrepentant hearts, storing up wrath, (Romans 2:5)
Hearts of debasement, at home with the worms and the dust, (Job 7:5)
Driving ever backward and never forward, (Jeremiah 7:24)
Declaring all bitter things sweet, (Isaiah 5:20)
Oh the agony of such hearts Lord! Sounding the trumpets of war in their very souls! (Jeremiah 4:19)
Smash those stoney hearts! Oh give them hearts of flesh! (Ezekial 36:26)
Pure hearts where all guile of self is purged! (Matthew 5:8)
Hearts with eyes enlightened! (Ephesians 1:18)
Elected hearts! Overflowing with mercies and loving kindness, (Colossians 3:12)
Rejoicing in the Lord and His commandments (Psalms 19:8)
Hearts free of condemnation, passed from death to life! (John 5:24)
Glorifying God with mind and mouth as one! (Romans 15:6)
Hearts loving our Lord with all our soul and might! (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Oh give me Lord
The very Heart of Christ!
My prayer for you this morning is that the Lord takes up His scythe in your life and your heart so that He makes room for Himself, whatever roots your own idols have grown. Only then will you have Life and have it more abundantly.